Posted in India

Republic Day 2020 : Time for stocktaking

When I started this blog in November 2014, I wanted to make occasional assessments of how the incoming Government of India would deliver good governance – one of its major campaign promises.

And what better occasion than today, when a Republic celebrates a Constitution that has been in effect for 70 glorious years, which has transformed a post-colonial basket case into a proud member of the comity of nations, which binds together more ethnicities and diversities than any other nation-state on the planet, and where a vast swathe of the population is suddenly feeling so vulnerable that the eyes of the world are watching every move of its elected government.

So let’s begin with the UN Paradigm of good governance, and assess the Indian Government‘s performance objectively for each indicator, based upon reliable media reports and facts and data…

Good Governance Indicators Performance of Indian Government (2014-19) from media headlines Assessing Government Performance Remarks
Efficiency 355 Infrastructure projects with cost overrun of ₹3880 billion: Economic Times Nov 2019 FAIL INEFFICIENT
Effectiveness Demonetisation drive that cost 1.5 m jobs, failed to uncover black money: The Guardian August 2018 FAIL INEFFECTIVE
Participation Most schemes like SBA, Smart Cities, PMAY etc have not produced the desired results because their design, implementation and monitoring have been left entirely to bureaucrats and consultants with little or no public participation: Various Media Reports FAIL CENTRALIZED
Accountability Umpteen examples of corruption cases against politicians being dropped once they switch allegiance to the ruling party. BJP campaigners proudly claim their party is a ‘washing machine’ : HW News, The Wire Oct 2019 FAIL UNACCOUNTABLE
Responsiveness Not ONE senior minister deputed to discuss grievances with protesters, even after a month : All media reporting on Shaheen Bagh Protests, January 2020 FAIL UNRESPONSIVE
Transparency Right to Information Act modified to curtail its independence : Economic Times Oct 2019 FAIL OPAQUE
Inclusion Citizenship Amendment Act perceived as exclusionary and discriminatory : UN Human Rights Commission FAIL MAJORITARIAN
Consensus Orientation Governance by brute majority, not consensus building : Parliamentary Proceedings FAIL MONOLITHIC
Rule of Law Disregard for Rule of Law in crushing protest and dissent : Media Reports from UP, JMI, AMU, JNU : December 2019 FAIL AGGRESSIVE
Equity Heightened disparity : Oxfam Report on growing disparity in India: ‘… economic inequality is being added to a society that is already fractured along the lines of caste, religion, region and gender.’ January 2020 FAIL DISCRIMINATORY

Sadly, this means that we have ended up with a government that is monolithic, majoritarian, aggressive, and discriminatory in attitude, unaccountable, opaque and unresponsive in action, centralized in its decision making,  and incompetent and ineffective in its outcomes. Certainly not good governance…

Happy Republic Day all the same.


I am a trainer of Government Officials and Elected Representatives, specializing in the urban and municipal sector. I have also written extensively on Urban Governance, Poverty, Development, Social Accountability and Municipal Management in the Indian context, and wish to share these writings with you through this blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s